Transgender juvenile inmate ordered to York Correctional prison in Niantic

A court order has landed a transgender juvenile at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, the state Department of Correction announced on Tuesday.

The unidentified juvenile was transferred to the prison from the custody of the Department of Children and Families under unknown circumstances. While the transfer is allowed by state statute, it is rare for a juvenile to be placed at an adult prison and in this case the first time a transgender juvenile is being held at an adult prison in Connecticut, according to DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci.

DCF, in a statement, said it is the first time in more than 13 years that a juvenile was placed in an adult prison and it "does not take such a step lightly."

DCF cited Connecticut General Statutes Section 17a-12(a), "which provides that when a youth who is adjudicated delinquent is dangerous to him or herself or cannot safely be held at a program operated or used by the Department of Children and Families, upon motion, a juvenile court may transfer custody of the youth to the adult correction system."

"We work hard to serve youths with even the most complex needs, but in extreme cases, when a youth has seriously injured staff or assaulted other youths whom the Department is entrusted to keep safe, thereby eroding the capacity of the impacted programs to serve, it is incumbent upon us to take appropriate authorized measures," the statement reads.

DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt declined further comment.

Because the individual is a minor, as well as for safety and security concerns, the person is not being identified, the DOC said in a statement. The court order requires that the transgender juvenile be assessed for a determination about final placement.

"A transgender individual is defined as a person whose gender identity and/or internal sense of feeling male or female is different from the person's assigned sex at birth," the DOC said in a statement.

York is the state's only women's prison but also houses male inmates in one section of the prison.

"We will do everything in our power to provide a safe, secure and humane environment for this individual, as we would for any other person under our supervision," DOC Commissioner James E. Dzurenda said in a statement.

g.smith@theday.com

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